Sarah Chevalier, the first-year coach of the Central Crossing High School girls basketball team, comes from a Pickerington program that has had a great amount of success.

Sarah Chevalier, the first-year coach of the Central Crossing High School girls basketball team, comes from a Pickerington program that has had a great amount of success.

The Comets have fluctuated from a solid program to a down one during their six years. They were 7-13 overall last year and 1-9 in the OCC-Central Division, last in the league behind champion Pickerington North (10-0).

Central Crossing will have to find a way to overcome a lack of height, an issue that is no stranger to the program. Without being able to rely on size, Chevalier has started the building process with a heavy concentration on pressure defense, something she learned in Pickerington North coach Dave Butcher's system.

"Our strength right now is probably our defense and our scrappiness," said Chevalier, whose team opens Tuesday at home against Franklin Heights. "A lot of that is because we don't have a lot of height. We're quicker. We're going to have people that can shut you down."

The emphasis on defense has worked to increase communication between players on the court, which in turn has brought the team closer together, providing lessons on the value of teamwork.

Chevalier said the plan was to get the pressure defense to lead into transition opportunities on offense, but the way the Comets intend to play defense has also affected the offense in other ways.

"In order for the defense to work you have to talk," senior Chloe Richardson said. "On offense that's where greed can come in and people are trying to do it themselves and be the hero, but now people want to work to score for each other."

To help get the defense playing at a higher level, several players said that the preseason conditioning has been more intense.

Senior Taylor Trejo said the conditioning defensive emphasis has helped to make the team more "head strong."

Senior point guard Whitney Fullen will be the catalyst to this year's team. Fullen shared the point-guard role last season, but will take over primary ball-handling responsibilities. Heading into the final week of the preseason Fullen appeared to be the only lock to make the starting lineup.

Trejo and Richardson are expected to play a key role as well along with seniors Brittany Covietz and Megan Wheelock.

Also on the team are junior Genea Pleasant, who started at times last season, junior Rachel Dorsey and sophomore Dakota Pyles.

Fullen fought through a knee injury to play a large role last year when Central Crossing lost in first first round of the Division I district tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

The Comets will be playing against new opponents this year in the realigned OCC-Central. They will be joined by Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Thomas Worthington, Upper Arlington, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne.

Central Crossing is seeking its first winning season since 2004-05, when it was 15-6 overall.

"Obviously we want a good record and that is one of our goals," Fullen said.

"We also want to hang tough, not bail out when things get tough."

At a glance

•Coach: Sarah Chevalier, first season

•Opener: Tuesday vs. Franklin Heights

•Key players: Whitney Fullen, Chloe Richardson and Taylor Trejo